Inês Pedrosa

Biography

Inês Pedrosa was born in Coimbra, Portugal, in 1962. She published her first text in 1974 in the journal Crónica Feminina, which gave its title to the crónicas [editorials] she supplied for the Portuguese weekly Expresso between 2002 and 2011, and which were later published as a collection by Dom Quixote, also entitled Crónica Feminina. Her involvement with journalism and political writing, which often contained a feminist critique of issues such as anti-abortion laws and domestic violence, cannot be separated from her career as a fiction writer, as both her professional occupations influence and complement each other in her work.

Inês Pedrosa graduated in 1984 with a degree in Media Studies from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and started her career as a journalist at O Jornal, later moving to the cultural magazine Jornal de Letras. She has contributed to some of the most influential newspapers and magazines in Portugal, such as O Expresso, O Independente, Ler and Jornal de Letras, and worked as editor-in-chief for the Portuguese edition of Marie Claire from 1993 to 1996. In 1997 she presented a cultural programme on the TV channel SIC. She also headed the Casa Fernando Pessoa from February 2008 to April 2014.

Pedrosa’s first novel A Instrução dos Amantes [An Education for Lovers] was published in 1992; her second Nas Tuas Mãos [In Your Hands], released in 1997, won the Prémio Máxima de Literatura in 1998, a literary prize dedicated to women’s writing and awarded by the women’s magazine Máxima. Following the lives and intergenerational relationships of three women throughout the years of the Estado Novo and in its aftermath, Pedrosa raises important questions about the woman’s position in a family that does not quite comply with traditional expectations. The novel enjoyed great acclaim by critics from abroad: Alison Ribeiro de Menezes (2011: 90) writes that it ‘interrogates the question of disrupted genealogy in the specific context of Salazarism and post-Salazarist Portugal by means of the use of the embodied voices of three generations’, and Deolinda Adão (2013: 97) states that ‘pretende-se que essa marginalidade resulta da tensão entre os mitos portugueses de feminilidade, tanto literários como culturais, e a apropriação e reconstrucção destes mitos pelo Estado Novo de forma a forjar uma identidade feminina que se insere dentro da estrutura da retórica nacionalista do regime’. However, it has been largely ignored by literary criticism in Portugal and often interpreted as emotive writing rather than historical fiction.

It was Pedrosa’s third novel, Fazes-me Falta [Missing You], published in 2002, that attracted the attention of national literary criticism and established her as an important voice in a generation of contemporary writers. Reviews by Eduardo Prado Coelho (2002: 12), who calls the novel ‘um dos romances mais importantes publicados este ano’, and fellow author Augustina Bessa Luís (2002: 19), who states that ‘o romance de Inês Pedrosa tem um outro despertar cultural’, contributed greatly to its national literary acclaim, which is also manifest in the text’s huge popularity with readers, making it one of the author’s best-selling novels. Fazes-me Falta relates the conversation from beyond the grave between an older man and a younger woman, who has just died in childbirth, pondering questions of friendship and love, life and death, and presence and absence. Some of her more recent work, Dentro de Ti Ver o Mar [Seeing the Sea inside You] (2012), recounting the postmodern relationship between Fado singer Rosa and Gabriel and her friendship with Farimah and Luísa, and Desamparo [Helplessness] (2015), which circles around the themes of emigration and return and the different realities of Portugal and Brazil, have been favourably received in the blogosphere. Book-lover Vera Helena Sopa blogs ‘[Desamparo] dificilmente esquecerei [and] li este romance [Dentro de Ti Ver o Mar] em dois dias, compulsivamente’.

Pedrosa’s political voice can be most clearly heard in her shorter fiction, especially in her crónicas, the investigative interest of the journalist meeting with the fictional talent of the writer in some very powerful pieces of writing. Her first volume of short stories, Fica Comigo Esta Noite [Stay with Me Tonight] was published to huge critical acclaim in 2003. Her short story, ‘A Cabeleireira’ [The Hairdresser], published in the collection, could be cited as one example where the societal sensitivity of the journalist is combined with the skillful narrator of fictions in a tale that does not leave its readers impassive. The ‘I’, the voice of an educated middle-class woman narrating the story, relates an account of sexual, physical and verbal abuse that results in the stabbing and murder of her violent and unfaithful husband, landing her in prison, where she can now fulfil her life-long ambition of being a hairdresser. In this story, as she does in her crónicas, Pedrosa tackles themes and issues, such as domestic violence, which are seldom expressed so openly in Portuguese fiction. The engaging tone of her collection of crónicas in Crónica Feminina, published in 2005, won her the Prémio Paridade da Comissão para a Cidadania e Igualdade de Género, recognising Pedrosa’s unique talent for expressing in fiction issues of sexual inequality and discrimination based on the (legal) reality in Portugal. Deolinda Adão (2013: 26) writes that in Inês Pedrosa’s fiction ‘a relação entre o espaço público e o privado é indissociável’ and the public persona of the journalist is reflected in a writing that is concerned with the most intimate and private relationships of her protagonists.

Compiled by Suzan Bozkurt (Manchester)

Bibliography

Mais Ninguém Tem (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 1991)

A Instrução dos Amantes (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 1992)

Nas Tuas Mãos (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 1997)

Fazes-me Falta (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2002)

Fica Comigo Esta Noite (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2003)

Crónica Feminina (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2005)

Carta a Uma Amiga (Lisbon: Texto Editora, 2005)

Do Grande e do Pequeno Amor (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2006)

A Eternidade e o Desejo (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2007)

No Coração do Brasil: Seis Cartas ao Padre António Vieira, narrativa de viagem (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2008)

Os Íntimos (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2010)

Dentro de ti ver o mar (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2012)

Desamparo (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2015)

Desnorte (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2016)

English Translations

‘The Hairdresser’ [Translation of ‘A Cabeleireira’ by Deolinda Adão] in Contar Um Conto: Volume II, Textos Chimaera (Lisbon: CEAUL, University of Lisbon, 2016)

Compiled by Suzan Bozkurt (Manchester)

 

Criticism

Adão, Deolinda: As herdeiras do segredo: personagens femininas na ficção de Inês Pedrosa (Alfragide: Texto Editores, 2013)

Bessa Luís, Augustina: ‘A cintilação da mortalidade’ (Jornal de Letras, 15 May 2002, p. 19)

Da Cunha, Mónica Lisa M. de Morais Guerra: Sucessos na literatura: Regras, receitas e surpresas na literatura Portuguesa contemporânea ([Master’s Thesis], Universidade de Lisboa, 2004)

Jorge, Lídia: ‘Uma educação sentimental’ (Jornal de Letras, 13 August 1997, p. 14)

Jornal de Letras: ‘Acho que acrescento alguma coisa’ (Inês Pedrosa) (Jornal de Letras, 19 May 1992, p. 12)

Nunes, Maria Leonor: ‘As palavras transformam o mundo’ (Jornal de Letras, 21 August 2002, p. 9)

Prado Coelho, Eduardo: ‘Os amantes do possível’ (Público, 27 April 2002, p. 12)

Ribeiro de Menezes, Alison: Legacies of War and Dictatorship in Contemporary Spain and Portugal (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011)

Sopa, Vera Helena, Desamparo/ Dentro de Ti Ver o Mar (Ler um prazer adquirido, available online at http://lerprazeradquirido.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Inês%20Pedrosa

Williams (Bozkurt), Suzan: ‘Voices from the Sidelines: The Crônicas of Inês Pedrosa and Maria Judite de Carvalho at the Intersection of Literary Canon and Journalism’ in Transcultural Encounters amongst Women: Redrawing Boundaries in Hispanic and Lusophone Art, Literature and Film edited by Patricia O’Byrne, Gabrielle Carty and Niamh Thornton (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, pp. 123-133)

Compiled by Suzan Bozkurt (Manchester) 

 

Interviews 

Nery, Isabel: ‘Prémio Máxima de Literatura 1998’ (Máxima, November 1998, pp. 85-87)

Nunes, Maria Leonor: ‘As palavras transformam o mundo’ (Jornal de Letras, 21 August 2002, p. 9)

Rego, Francisca Cunha: ‘Diálogo com o Padre António Viera’ (Jornal de Letras, 21 November 2007, p. 22)

Xavier, Leonor: ‘Inês Pedrosa: sou uma optimista’ (Máxima, February 1993, pp. 32-36)

—: ‘Paixão, amor: Lídia Jorge e Inês Pedrosa em conversas cruzadas’ (Máxima, July 1998, pp. 60-62)

Compiled by Suzan Bozkurt (Manchester)